FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell had healed enough to practice with the Razorbacks when they began preparing for their trip to Italy.
After eight workouts with the Razorbacks, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson has now deemed Powell healthy enough to play during the four-game overseas trip.
Powell is scheduled to earn his first game action since suffering the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last November. It’s not known how much Powell will play for the Razorbacks in Italy, but Anderson said it’s good to see him back.
“It’s a steady process,” Anderson said of Powell’s recovery from the knee injury. “He is not where he is going to be, but I think the beauty of it is he is out there.
“That does a lot for the psyche, a lot from the mental standpoint.”
Powell averaged 19.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in two games before suffering the injury as the team prepared to play Houston in Little Rock. He is the most experienced frontcourt player on the roster, giving the Razorbacks an inside scoring threat they missed during Anderson’s first season in 2011-12.
He’ll get a chance to work his way back into game shape when Arkansas plays four times in six days during their trip. The first game will be played against Amici del Campetto in Lake Como on Sunday. Arkansas will wrap up its basketball schedule on the trip with a game against All Star Italy in Rome on Friday.
“I have played a couple of pick-up games, but I didn’t play that many,” Powell said of the extent of his work in rehabilitation. “It has just been totally practice structured for me since I have been back. It is going to be nice to see what I can do.”
Powell already has been welcomed back by teammates, needing stitches after getting an elbow from freshman Hunter Mickelson during practice work for the Italy tour. Powell said he currently weighs 238 pounds, but is hoping to be back in the 220- to 225-range before the Razorbacks begin the 2012-13 season.
Anderson said it’s no surprise Powell is well behind in conditioning because of the knee injury. In fact, he joked Powell only lasted three minutes his first practice.
“I couldn’t even make it past halfcourt,” Powell said. “It was tired.”
But the Razorbacks are happy he’ll be with them on the floor in Italy as they continue to prepare for the 2011-12 season.
“He brings, size, skill and leadership,” Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade said. “He brings a lot to the table. In the low post with him and Hunter (Mickelson) and (newcomer) Coty Clarke, those guys are really holding the paint down right now.”